Former CDC Chief Dr. Tom Frieden: Personal Freedom Versus The Pandemic

The pandemic has raised significant issues of concern for a democratic society, including that of balancing personal freedom against the greater good. How should this issue be most appropriately addressed during a time of pandemic or national emergency? How well is America actually equipped to handle this kind of crisis and how can we best reconcile the protection of individual rights with the need for a national uniformity of effort?

Dr. Frieden is a physician trained in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and epidemiology. He began his public health career in New York City confronting the largest outbreak of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis to occur in the United States. He was then assigned to India, on loan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he helped scale up a program for effective tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and monitoring. Asked to return to New York City to become Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s health commissioner, he directed efforts to reduce smoking and other leading causes of death that increased life expectancy by 3 years. As director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Frieden oversaw the work that helped end the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. He now leads Resolve to Save Lives, a $225 million, 5-year initiative of Vital Strategies, working with countries to prevent 100 million deaths and to make the world safer from epidemics. He is also senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Join this important conversation about protecting the rights and health of Americans.


This program is part of The Commonwealth Club's series on "The Future of Democracy," supported by Betsy and Roy Eisenhardt.


Future of Democracy Series

Image - Tom Frieden
Dr. Tom Frieden
M.D., M.P.H., Director, Centers for Disease Control Under President Obama; Health Commissioner, City of New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Current President and CEO, Resolve to Save Lives
Image - Elisabeth Rosenthal
In Conversation with Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal
M.D., Editor in Chief, Kaiser Health News; Former Health Correspondent, New York Times; Author, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back